Nick Tandy said Porsche’s breakthrough GT Le Mans win at Motul Petit Le Mans was all the more poignant given the program’s impending conclusion and the difficulties it has faced throughout this year.
Tandy, Frederic Makowiecki and Matt Campbell took the lead for good in the final hour when trouble befell the leading BMW and the trio held on to deliver the win.
The team had struggled through a winless season to date and had an utterly fruitless outing one week ago on the Charlotte ‘roval’ where both Porsche 911 RSR-19s failed to complete more than the first 20 minutes of the race.
Tandy said that knowledge of the program’s conclusion after this season and Porsche’s challenging start to the 2020 campaign made for an emotional trip to victory lane.
“We’ve had so many things happen this year,” he told Sportscar365. “We’ve had decent runs and we’ve had podiums, but then we’ve had places where we’ve had really good runs and then stuff has happened.
“You go from Mid-Ohio where we didn’t even race, then everyone was excited to go racing again and we did 20 minutes of Charlotte. You can imagine the week between Charlotte and here.
“Everyone’s thinking: my God, what is happening this year? So this is what we all deserved, really. I’m happy to share it with everyone on the team. They’re a great bunch of people who we’ve had so many good years with.
“To come here where we had the six-hour race not that long ago and we weren’t so shiny, we weren’t that competitive, so we didn’t expect much. Because of all these circumstances, to come here and take the victory is amazing.
“It’s the fourth time I’ve been lucky enough to win [Petit Le Mans] and it’s as good as any of them before.
“It justifies the effort that we put in even though we know the program is ending. Naturally, things start winding themselves up, but everyone’s come here and put 100-percent effort in and it’s paid off.
“It’s possibly the last year I’ll share a car with Matt, it could be the last victory we have as a team. It could be! So you’ve got to take each day as it is.”
The GTLM battle was tight throughout with five of the six cars remaining on the lead lap until the final minutes. After the race, the No. 911 Porsche showed the scars of several close encounters, leaving Tandy amazed that it was still capable of victory.
“It’s a complete mess!” Tandy said of the car. “We haven’t got rear endplates, we haven’t got half of the diffuser, we’re missing half of the side skirt.
“We almost couldn’t do a driver change because we couldn’t open the door! In the end we decided we were just going to have to leave it because we didn’t have time to fix it.
“We were running with one hand behind our back. It could have helped with the tire longevity. Possibly less downforce and putting less strain on the tire helped us a bit, but through all this it makes it extra special.”